The independent Science Advisory Panel (SAP) provides scientific peer review and validation of science implementation to the Chief Scientist and the Minister of Environment and Parks.

Advice from the SAP will be used to guide continuous improvements in scientific standards and processes to ensure they are credible and meet or set global best practices.

Roles and responsibilities

Responsibilities of the SAP include:

  • Providing the Chief Scientist and the Minister of Environment and Parks independent advice and recommendations on Alberta’s environmental science program, including recommendations on priorities and methodologies.
  • Reviewing the scientific quality and relevance of the environmental science program, including its components and any related research programs and plans
  • Assessing the scientific integrity of the environmental science program and commenting publicly as necessary


Search the list of public agencies to find the Panel's:

  • mandate and roles
  • code of conduct
  • agency classification

Panel members

  • Photo of Dr. Jill S. Baron

    Dr. Jill S. Baron, Ph.D

    Dr. Jill Baron is the founder and Co-Director of the John Wesley Powell Centre for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

    She holds a B.Sc. from Cornell University, M.Sc. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. from Colorado State University.

    Her interests include applying ecosystem concepts to management of human-dominated regions, and understanding the biogeochemical and ecological effects of climate change and atmospheric nitrogen deposition to mountain ecosystems. Dr. Baron is President of the Ecological Society of America. She was Lead Author of the US Climate Change Science Program report on Climate Change Adaptation Options for National Parks, has given testimony to Congress on western acid rain and climate change issues, and was Editor-in-Chief of Issues in Ecology, an Ecological Society of America publication for non-scientists from 2009-2012.

    She is founder and Principle Investigator of Loch Vale Watershed long-term monitoring and research program in Rocky Mountain National Park, an instrumented catchment with 30 years of continuous records.

    Her major interest include: Biogeochemical cycling/ecosystem ecology, fostering sustainable human societal/environmental interactions and increasing opportunities for women and minorities in science.

    Dr. Baron has authored over 150 publications. Her most recent awards include:

    • Resident Distinguished Ecologist, Colorado State University 2014-2015
    • Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, 2012
    • National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director’s Award for Natural Resource Research, 2011
    • Rocky Mountain National Park Stewardship Award, 2011
  • Photo of Dr. John Giesy

    Dr. John Giesy, Ph.D

    Dr. John Giesy is a Faculty Member in the Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences Faculty of the Toxicology Center, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Zoology at Michigan State University and Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

    He was born in Youngstown Ohio, but lived most of his life in the state of Michigan. He obtained a BSc Degree, Summa cum laude with honours in Biology and a Masters and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Limnology from Michigan State University (MSU). He was affiliated with the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and a faculty member in the Institute of Ecology and Department of Zoology at the University of Georgia. Until 2006, he was Distinguished Professor of Zoology at MSU, East Lansing, Michigan, where he was also a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and on the faculties of the Center for Integrative Toxicology and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center.

    Dr. Giesy is a Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department Biology and Chemistry, at City University of Hong Kong, Concurrent Professor of Environmental Science at Nanjing University, China, and Honorary Professor of Biology at the University of Hong Kong, and a Guest Professor at Xiamen University, China, Honorary Professor, State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China.

    In 2010 he was elected to the Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Division of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Discipline of Earth Sciences. In 2012 he was recognized with the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) as the recipient of the SCOPE-Zhongyu Environmental Sciences Life Achievements Award, Miroslaw Romanowski Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, University of Saskatchewan J.W. George Ivany Internationalization Award and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Capacity-Building Award.

    He is one of the world’s leading experts on the chemistry and toxicity of organic compounds, such as the PAHs and related compounds in the Athabasca.

    He has received over one hundred million dollars from local, state, federal, and international agencies and organizations to conduct his research, which has resulted in the publication of 983 books and book chapters and journal articles and 1,442 lectures, world wide.

  • Photo of Dr. David Hik

    Dr. David Hik, Ph.D

    Dr. David Hik is a Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta and Guest Professor, Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai, China.

    Dr. Hik holds a B.Sc. from Queen’s University, a M.Sc. from the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia.

    His research interests are focused on the ecology and ecosystem dynamics of mountain and cold-region environments; determinants of social-ecological resilience; and the interface between science and policy.

    Dr. Hik previously held the Canada Research Chair in Northern Ecology (2002-2012) and served as Executive Director of the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) Secretariat (2004-2009).  He recently completed terms as President of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and Vice-Chair of the Arctic Council’s ‘Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)’ initiative.  Dr. Hik is also a member of several other Boards, including Polar Knowledge Canada; the Arctic Center, University of Lapland; and the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research, Yukon.

    Dr. Hik has numerous publications and awards, most recently receiving the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Martin Bergmann Medal for Excellence in Arctic Leadership and Science (2013) and Erebus Medal (2015).

  • Photo of Dr. Joanna Nightingale

    Dr. Joanna Nightingale, Ph.D

    Dr. Joanna Nightingale is currently based at the National Physical Laboratory in London, United Kingdom, where she leads a research area investigating the quality aspects of satellite records for climate and environmental monitoring applications.

    Her job involves working with the international community to define standards for measuring land surface properties, such as leaf area and biomass of forests, on the ground and from satellites. This involves validation against highly calibrated ground reference data, methods for scaling these data and development of internationally endorsed best practice guidance for these measurements and methodologies.

    Dr. Nightingale also serves as a liaison to the Earth Observing System (EOS) team to facilitate the coordination and development of data and methods for global validation of NASA EOS satellite land products through use of shared field, airborne, and satellite datasets and international collaboration.

    Dr. Nightingale holds BSc. University of Queensland (UQ), BSc. Honors First Class, UQ and Ph.D. from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, UQ. Dr. Nightingale has worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Forest Science at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and the Department of Forest Science at Oregon State University, and as a Sigma Space Corporation Contract Research Scientist in the Terrestrial Information Systems Branch at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    Dr. Nightingale has numerous publications, awards and is the author of three books. Her most recent awards include:

    • The NASA GSFC Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, Peer Award
    • Recipient of the Honorary Research Associate, CRC for Greenhouse Accounting Award
  • Photo of Dr. Russell Schnell

    Dr. Russell Schnell, Ph.D

    Dr. Russell Schnell is Deputy Director of the Global Monitoring Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Boulder, Colorado, USA.

    Dr. Russell Schnell was born and raised in Castor, Alberta. He holds first class honour’s degrees in Biology from the University of Alberta, and Chemistry from Memorial University, Newfoundland. He earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming, in Atmospheric Science.

    He oversees operations of atmospheric observatories located in Barrow, Alaska; Trinidad Head, California; Mauna Loa, Hawaii; American Samoa; and South Pole, Antarctica. His current arctic activities are mainly associated with the Baseline Observatory in Barrow, Alaska, including overall responsibility for the station and scientific interest in boundary layer ozone depletion.

    While working at the NOAA, Dr. Schnell was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on the International Panel on Climate Change.

    Dr. Schnell has been Director of numerous major projects and scientific institutions, has lived or worked in 65 countries, and has authored more than 100 scientific publications.

    Significant contributions made by Dr. Schnell, or under his direction, include:

    • Discovery of biological ice nuclei, first used in snowmaking, food preservation, and preserving human organs for transplant.
    • Established the degree of pollution of Canada’s north, and that Arctic Haze was air pollution from Eastern Europe and Russia.
    • Major discoveries on Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, and the ozone layer.
  • Photo of Dr. Alexander J.B. (Sasha) Zehnder

    Dr. Alexander J.B. (Sasha) Zehnder, Ph.D

    Dr. Alexander Zehnder is Scientific Director of Water Resources of Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions Edmonton, Alberta, and the founder and Director of Triple Z Limited.

    He is the former President of the ETH Board and Professor emeritus of ETH in Zurich, Switzerland.

    Dr. Zehnder holds a Ph.D. in Natural science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich and the Swiss Water Research Institute (EAWAG) and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University in Nancy, France.

    He is a Member of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and obtained the Order of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is one of the “founding fathers” of the concept of the “2000 Watt” Society.

    Dr. Zehnder was a Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA and then accepted an Assistant Professorship at Stanford University.

    He was appointed as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology of the Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands and was Director of EAWAG, and Professor for Environmental Biotechnology at ETH Zurich. He was president of the ETH-Board, the governing board of the ETH-system comprising two universities (ETH-Zurich and ETH-Lausanne), and four national laboratories (PSI, EMPA, WSL, EAWAG).

    His work has recently focused on water policy, the nexus between water, energy and food security, water safety and infrastructures, as well as innovative solutions in industrial water treatment, particularly in the oil and gas industry. Outside of academia he is involved in developing capital market instruments for more sustainable production and use of natural resources. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index is based on some of his contributions.

    He chaired a number of international expert commissions and has published a number of books and over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Compensation disclosure

Public sector bodies are required to post online the names and compensation paid to:

This is a requirement under the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act. The postings are required by June 30 each year and will be maintained for 5 years.

Compensation disclosure file and nil report


Connect with the Science Advisory Panel, by contacting the Office of the Chief Scientist:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Email: [email protected]

10th Floor, 9888 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C6